Well it’s Digital Health and Care Week this week in Scotland. As I write this blog, I’m in a wet and windy Wellington, New Zealand – not much different from the weather at home I suspect but someone told me it’s supposed to be summer here! More about New Zealand later but let’s start with some reflections on my recent couple of weeks in Australia where I’ve also been doing some work for the Australian government and the weather is much more like a southern hemisphere summer – I can’t really complain too much!
And why have I travelled to the other side of the word? The simple answer is that I was invited and it would have been rude to say no, right? It would appear that word is out about our Scottish NMAHP digital efforts, our NMAHP digital engagement and practices and others want to hear and learn more.
Similar to ourselves, Australia has produced a digital health strategy which resonates in terms of vision and the potential benefits enhanced digital practice can bring with our own. I was particularly impressed by this graphic contained within their strategy which shows how employing digital options can really impact on every stage of our lives. I’m wondering about how we can use this approach in Scotland and will be having that conversation with government colleagues once I get home. It’s really powerful.
I ran some workshops for wide multi-professional audiences in Canberra and Sydney on leadership and Digital Practice. What really struck me was how keen the participants were to use technology and digital solutions and to start to think and practice disruptively. But if I’m honest, and hope I don’t offend any of my antipodean friends by saying that in terms of digital innovation and practice, we in the UK and particularly in Scotland, are a little further along on this journey. What this means is that others want to hear our story and that we are well placed to share our experiences and use these to stimulate thinking in others.
Participants left with clear plans about how they were going to start using digital solutions and I’m looking forward to hearing how they get on. They are also intending to establish a digital network along the lines of how we organise our own in Scotland. It’s a good feeling to know that others want some of what we have!
Now though I’m here In New Zealand for the Health Informatics New Zealand Conference (#HiNZ2018) where I’ve given a couple of keynotes and contributed to panels and sessions. I have to say that this conference is big (a couple of thousand delegates) and was sold out weeks ago! It would appear that Kiwis are very keen on technology and digital practice and were even more interested to hear about our own digital strategy, our NMAHP network, how we are developing our workforce and examples of the benefits to those that use and provide our services. So this is why sadly I’m not in Scotland for what is the highlight week in our digital calendar. The programme for this conference was extensive and I didn’t get to many of the sessions I was interested in due to the amount of stuff going on at any given time.
I together with Richard Corbridge who is the CIO in Leeds were invited to attend the NZ Clinical Leads meeting that took place the day before the conference started. About 30 of us were joined by their ministerial strategy lead for an afternoon of sharing and what struck me is how similar our priorities are.
I don’t have the opportunity to share all aspects of the conference with you in this blog as there were over 130 presenters, 48 sessions and 4 plenary sessions. There are however a couple of issues I do want to highlight. The work that HISA (Health Informatics Society of Australia) are doing around certification for clinicians interested in informatics. They have developed the CHIA which basically is an exam you can take to become accredited and recognised for your informatics skills. They have just produced a version for New Zealand and I think there is a real opportunity for us to explore with them te potential relevance for us to have a UK version as its something that is much needed in our country. Another highlight of relevance for us is the publication Guidelines: Informatics for Nurses entering practice. This is an issue we have been grappling with for a while and we have the authors permission to use this publication and ‘tartanise’ it is we wish – this is another thing we will pursue.
Overall, it’s been a really interesting few weeks and in summary, I want to share a few general reflections of my time down under. The first thing I want to say is that we are all united by the considerate issues we all face irrespective of where we live in the world. Our collective focus on trying to deliver real person centred care within complex systems thwarted by the challenges of interoperability, consistency and supporting frameworks and the associated necessary governance and security is everyone’s current focus. I’ve also been struck by the obvious enthusiasm and real interest from Australasian NMAHPs in understanding more about how they can better engage in digital practice. There’s some great work going on here, for example, New Zealand AHPs have recently published their own national dataset and standards which cannily mirrors our own Scottish efforts.
As I said, there are things we are doing in Scotland that others are really interested in. Here in Australasia, there are no organised national networks and limited opportunities for NMAHPs to gain skills and experience in Digital Health and Care in the same way we have in Scotland. The looks and sounds of envy when I share how we offer opportunities for our staff through the dNMAHP network and personal development opportunities such as the NMAHP leadership programme are very evident. One key aspect I have been keen to discuss within the workshops and talks I have been giving relates to the concept of disruptive technology. Simply replacing paper processes with electronic means never yields benefits and can actually disengage clinical interest and I’m sure we all have many examples of this. There has to be some palpable and obvious benefit for users of digital systems, technologies and services and that goes for both our fellow colleagues and those to whom we provide care.
I have to say that I was quite surprised to find out that twitter is not big in Australasia. I did however encourage the AHPs in Canberra to start to use it in a professional capacity but as I said before, they are a few years behind us – I’m more than sure however that they will eventually catch up!
In contrast however, I’m really looking forward however to hearing about what the digital community gets up to during Digital Health and Care Week and conference am confident that NMAHPs will be right up the middle of things as usual. `I know you all use Twitter! Please be sure to use the hashtag #dnmahp and tweet about what you’re doing thinking about or learning through the week.
I’m having a great time here in the southern hemisphere, meeting some really interesting people who we will link with into the future but please don’t think this trip has been all work and no play! I purposely factored some time to get out and about, catch up with friends, see the local sights and, for anyone who has visited Australia, you will know, there’s much to see – how perfect being able to combine business with pleasure. I’m a lucky gal!
By Lesley Holdsworth, Clinical Lead for Digital Health and Care Scottish Government
Follow me on Twitter: @lesleyahpd
N.B: All of this week’s blogs are also available via Scotland’s new Digital Health and Care Website If you’ve not visited yet, why not take a look at it now and tell us what you think of it via the online survey.